It’s friday! You know what that means? Party? No. Work in the morning. That’s what that means.
Anyway, Paul sent and email out to us here at the Compass awhile back with some ideas, one of which was a weekly thing where we would make playlists. He wanted to chronicle our lives with music (which is an awesome idea) and share them with the rest of you.
I wanted to do one step more. I am a massive fan of live music so I wanted to share live videos. There is something about musicians that play live. They can sound one way in the studio but you can really tell an amazing musician from the rest of the shitty musicians when he or she plays live. They have gotten to know the song. They can dig down deep. They know the feelings within it. They know the words. They know where it is going. They know where it can go. And they take it somewhere else. They are so familiar with a song that they can play around with it. It no longer becomes a song. It becomes an emotion.
So instead of making a playlist, I wanted to share some songs with you but I want you to see them. I don’t want you to listen to the song. I want you to see it and hear it and feel it and learn it. And just like my old radio show “Leviathan!!!” on 107.7 WECW, the last song is the most powerful. Break out the good stuff.
These are videos of live emotion. I hope you enjoy.
NOTE: Best with headphones. And beer.
- Hey Sandy - Polaris
- Gabrielle - Ween
- I Can’t Go For That - Daryl Hall and Cee-lo Green
- Egypt (The Chains Are On) - Dio
- Muffin Man - Frank Zappa
- I’d Rather Be With You - Bootsy Collins
- Cannibal Summer - Wax Fang
- Soil - System of a Down
- Graveyard - Butthole Surfers
- Watch It Die - Bad Religion and Eddie Vedder
- Mornings - Portugal. The Man
- Trinkets Pale Of Moon - The Mars Volta
I’m back! Sorry I was away for such a long time. Many things have happened. The main reason I disappeared was because after five years, my computer decided to destroy itself from the inside out and it took a little bit to find time to replace all of its innards. That’s finally done now and it runs better than ever but I lost every photo I’ve ever taken and every word I ever typed. Fuck. Now that I typed that out, it makes me feel really shitty. But what can you do? New beginnings I guess.
Speaking of new beginnings, another reason I was gone was because I have a new girlfriend. That has been the greatest feeling I’ve had in my entire life. That’s been keeping me preoccupied, obviously. By the way, her name is Ali and she has a twitter account. She is an artist (a really fucking impressive artist at that) and her work will no doubt be showcased here at the Compass soon. But anyway, at this current moment, I have the time to sit down and actually write something to completion.
My sister had to write a speech for her class about someone they love and deliver it in front of everyone. She chose to write about me and then sent me the transcript. I read it through my phone sitting in the parking lot of the Vince Lombardi rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike, right before the George Washington Bridge in New York City. I cried. So first will be her speech and then my response. I hope you enjoy!
It feels good to be back. Feels so good, man.
Happy Kid: A Letter to My Sister
An Untitled Speech
by Elise Martino
Anthony Michael Martino. I know this name has absolutely no significance to any of you and you are probably confused, curious, and wondering to whom this person might be. This person is my brother and he is probably my biggest role model in life. All my life I have looked up to him as an inspiration. For fun, we used to drive around random places with our sunglasses on, windows down, and blasting music. Those days are some of my favorite memories. But, eventually my brother turned 18 and left for college in New York. This was hard for me mainly because it meant that I would be living at home without a sibling and when he left we didn’t get to talk as much. Sure, he came and visited a lot but even now its different since he graduated college. He left then and moved to Washington D.C. to work with an organization called Americorps and now we really can’t talk as much because he is always working and I think that’s the hardest part for me. It’s hard knowing that I will now only get to see my brother about 2 times a year. Even though I don’t get to see him, I still miss him more than words can describe and he is still the one person who keeps me going. Anthony is the kind of person who is never down in the dumps and never abandons his goals. I know he is always just a phone call away or even a skype call away, but to me, it’s not the same. He always comes home and says how much it bums him out that he had to miss his sister learning to drive, and getting her license, and growing up. I know he is my older brother, but sometimes I feel like its harder for me to watch him grow up because I know we will never get to create memories like we used to because he is an adult now and I barely get to see him. I miss having my big brother around to help me through the good times and the bad times. It seems like time flew and now all of the sudden he is grown up and living his life. I love my big brother so much and I just wish he could be around more. He has taught me so many life lessons and he is honestly the one person who I can turn to for anything.
An Untitled Response
by Anthony Martino
You are not alone in these feelings. It hurts how much we have grown apart and I can only see your life through miscellaneous bits of technology. If it is any consolation, I think about calling you every day. When we do talk, I always ask you how school is going; I ask you to tell me about your teachers and your homework and your detentions and bad grades and the pictures of sea life you draw on your tests when you don’t know the answers. I ask about your friends and what you guys do for fun. I ask about the music you listen to and the parties you go to and how our puppy is doing and what foods he eats now. Watson is a picky dog but I still need to see him eat breadsticks because apparently it is the greatest thing in the world to watch, according to your texts.
I miss you, Elise and I’m sorry I haven’t been there in person every step of the way. I wanted to be there in the car with you the day you got your license. I wanted to be at home waiting to guilt trip you after you got your first detention. I want to be there to scare the living piss out of the first boyfriend you bring home. My plan was to just sit at the kitchen table and clean all of the gigantic knives mom has in the kitchen and just stare out the window and quietly repeat the words “I hope tonight is a good night” in a whispery version of the Batman voice. I’ve thought about all these things and it kills me to know that I won’t be able to. I’m going to try my hardest to be there to help you move in on your first day of college, which no doubt will be an ivy league. At least I can get really drunk at your wedding and make a great toast and embarrass you, provided you have an open bar. I’m not going to miss that for the world.
There is a reason I left you guys though. There is a reason why I felt comfortable travelling so far away from home. It is because I knew you would make it. I knew you would be fine. And you proved me right. You’ve done everything better than me so far. Your grades are better. You have more friends than I had. You have a direction. As much as you look up to me, I have a confession to make. I have no idea what I’m doing. I run my life like a massive experiment on an hour-to-hour basis. I travel around the country so much because I don’t quite know my own place yet. Its not easy. Moving to Washington D.C. in a post-9/11 world is probably the scariest thing I’ve done and I know how much you and everyone else at home worries and I’m sorry for that. I need to challenge myself in order to keep going. I wanted to challenge you to see what you were capable of and you went above and beyond my expectations of how successful you could be. You are my role model, Elise and I am very jealous of how well you’ve navigated yourself through middle school and high school.
I’m able to stay away for so long because I know you are doing great. Yeah, you have mood swings like a mothefucker but I know on the inside, you are going to kick life in the fucking balls and prove to everyone that you are the best at whatever you set your mind to. I tried to instill that in you all these years because I was unsure that I could do it myself. I didn’t want you to make the mistakes I’ve made; I didn’t want you to miss out on anything. I wanted you to be better than me. And you are.
Working with City Year has actually made me closer to you, believe it or not. Right now, I work in the lowest performing middle school in Washington D.C. in one of the hardest neighborhoods in the country. I work in a school where the fire department doesn’t show up when the alarms go off. I get threats against my life on a weekly basis. Recently, a student told me he was going to bring a gun to school and now I may have to go to court because I am a witness. This can’t be easy hearing this when I call home. I can’t even imagine the emotional pain I’ve caused our family and I am deeply sorry for that. But when I see my kids in class, when I see them actually learning, I think about you. I think about how I want them to be just as great as you are. You are the gold-standard of excellence and I am infinitely proud of you. I see all of my flaws in these students. I see the ignorance I had in middle school. I understand how serious it was that I had to write all those apology letters to teachers for my behavior. I failed English in 6th grade, the grade I help teach now, and then I went on the become and English major in college and hopefully one day earn my PhD in literary theory. Anything can be done as long as you believe in yourself and I believe in you.
We’ve been given an amazing family and I am proud and unfathomably excited that you are my sister. You are going to be so happy with where your life is going. I am now and you’ve done everything a billion times better than I have. Don’t worry about a single thing but don’t ever give up. Keep reaching for what you can never have. Grasp towards infinite space you will never know what true sadness is. I love you and can’t wait to see where life will take you. As always, I’ll be right there next to you. I never left.
Next time I’m home, we will drive down River Road together and blast Bootsy Collins and Gogol Bordello as loud as you want.
Before I started working where I do now, before I woke up every morning and put on a uniform, before ten-year-olds verbally threatened my life on a weekly basis, before I paid rent, for a few brief weeks this past summer, I had a suitcase of t-shirts, a car, a few friends, no responsibilities, and an entire country to explore. It was a time where the days of the week meant nothing and each hour was as casual as our clothing. Paul and James, brothers and contributors here at the Compass, and our friend Miles and I drove from Kentucky to Montana and back again. The following are some of my journal entries from that trip. They were great and powerful yet trying times and I miss them dearly so I figured why not relive some of them and try to get my spirits up from a not-so-great day at work.
Within these entries, you will encounter silly and frustrating events like when we met a man named Michael at a bar in Madison, Wisconsin, outlandish feats where I drank a bottle of wine and continued to write until I no longer could, and delusional yet truthful rants about grocery shopping. I added some notes here and there [like this] on some of the entries to clear some things up. So here is another raw glimpse into this strange, strange noisebox I claim as my head. Enjoy.
30 June 2011 - Keystone, South Dakota - 10:08 pm - Thursday
[In reference to the previous page in my journal which had scribbles of campsites, phone numbers, addresses of national parks], Those things before are information about our camping reservations for our road trip which finally happened and currently two days into. Except we ended up not staying at the first two camp sites. Camping is great and all but fuck camping.
We left Louisville at 5:30 am yesterday for who knows what reason, I was overzealous I suppose. We drove to Champagne, Illinois to visit Miles’ sister and her fiance. Eggs and strawberries and making fun of Sarah Palin and talking about Star Wars fan fiction, it was a very good time.
Once we left there, we decided that perhaps we didn’t want to camp and that James knew another guy named James who lives in Madison, Wisconsin. This was around noon and James got off work at 7 pm so we set the GPS to take us though the backroads of Illinois through corn fields, even drove on part of Route 66 a little bit, and we went to lunch in Chicago. We ate a place called Grand Lux Cafe that Paul and James had been to before. Once we got there, I soon learned that it is owned and operated by the Cheesecake Factory. The menu was almost identical in both size and content minus the advertisements. That was nice. The interior was not as feminine but still very upscale and ostentatious. The food tasted the exact same but we had fun.
After, we walked to Lake Michigan and stood in the fresh water on the beach there. The weather was 75 degrees and perfectly clear. The last time I was in Chicago, I was seven or eight years old and even though my dad is from there and I have tons of family in Melrose Park, I’ve always felt a disconnection from it that my family doesn’t share. That seemed to disappear; I really felt a connection to a city that I haven’t felt in awhile. It seemed like New York if the people who lived there were nice and cared about cleaning up their streets.
We drove to Madison, met James and his awesome apartment (he works for a pharmaceutical company or something with themed offices like Google or some shit), he was a cool dude. He took us to a bar nearby called something strange [The Echo Tap] where the drinks were super fucking strong and cheap. Two double Makers and coke. A guy named Michael who was beyond drunk came to our table, stated he was gay, and then proceeded to blather about his life and hit on Paul. He talked almost identically to Jar Jar Binks. He told us he works at a hospital where they make fun of him (he also appeared to have some sort of mental disability as well) and then asked which one of us was going to hit him and this made me feel terrible and disgusted. At this point in our society, this sort of fear shouldn’t fucking exist. Things need to change in people’s brains to make them realize that all humans have equal rights.
We left this morning on a very long and boring trip though southern Minnesota and Wisconsin. We saw the Oscar Meyer Wiener Mobile twice.
The conversations have been great, the music alright. We stopped at Wall Drug, the gigantic tourist trap that my dad and I first discovered when we made this drive several years ago. As mentioned before, we planned to camp in the Badlands but it was storming so we just drove straight here to Mt. Rushmore in a cheap hotel. It was around 9 when we started staring into dim windows looking for food when a family from Illinois gave us their leftover gigantic meatlovers pizza for free because they couldn’t finish it. Beer and that. 3 dollars.
Mt. Rushmore tomorrow, Cosmos, Devils Tower, Black Hills, Deadwood, then finally Big Sky. The trip is too recent to state anything profound yet. I haven’t had the time to chew it over. I am in full experience mode right now but will have better things to say soon.
2 July 2011 - Big Sky, Montana - 12:19 am - Saturday
We are finally fucking here. We are exhausted and on the edge, irregular, and kind of drunk (I drank a full bottle of caberret sauvignon in less than an hour on pretty much an empty stomach) but we are all having an amazing trip. There are some moments in a lifetime that when they occur, you know instantly the significance and are aware that you will remember it forever. Between the Crow reservation on the Montana/Wyoming border and Livingston, Montana (much closer to Livingston, however. It makes me think of the shitty vet John Steinbeck met there) I had one of the greatest conversations of my life with the guys mainly concerning the role of the individual in society, the future of America, and citizenship. From that, I began wondering why I want to be a college professor, not as in “why” or “should I” but more “what is my true subconscious motivation” and I realize it is because I feel like the more people converse and question, the better society will be. Learning to be curious at an early age is vital and when people develop a sense of what they care about, shit gets done. I want people to realize this. The reason why college is because I feel like I can talk easier to an older crowd, a crowd that wants to be there and has a basic idea of an objective. I want the next generation to have the friends and experiences that I have had. They need to know they can. They need to know that they have the potential. Everyone does. That conversation was immediately proceeded by Springsteen’s “Born to Run” as loud as my car stereo goes, windows down in 52 degrees going 80 miles per hour, screaming the words at the sunset. We all stuck our heads through the sunroof, me included even while I drove.
Everyone is asleep now I think.
Apart from the above, we did a ton today. Went to Mt. Rushmore, the Cosmos Mystery Area, Deadwood, I made $10 off of a $5 bill in the saloon where Wild Bill Hickok was shot in the back of the head, we all had sasperilla at Devils Tower, and finally drove through Bozeman. It was a great day. As pointed out by all of us, people here are much friendlier here than people in the east.
[The rest of my writing here goes off into personal items that I don’t really want to publish to y’all. You aren’t missing much and some of it gets inappropriate. Plus the booze began to kick in and it becomes progressively harder to read. I even skipped a line and called myself out for it.]
In [scribbles] Deadwood, I kept seeing [two lines of scribbles] (wow) [two full blank lines with an arrow pointing down to the third] I’m going to start this over on the next page.
[Next page] In Deadwood, I kept seeing pictures and signs referencing “Days of ‘76” which were very important and eventful times in the area for historically obvious reasons concerning the country and the outlaws of the west. It seems like it was just a perfect storm of events, idealism, spirit, and luck that over time, created history and influence over certain parts of the country. There are times like that now. The Days of ‘76 will live forever.
[I have no idea what that last paragraph means but I remember being quite proud of it at the time and then passing out on the couch.]
3 July 2011 - 8:12 pm - Sunday
I’ve never really talked about this with anyone before (the way that sounds makes this sound super serious and deep; it is not) but I have trouble shopping for just myself.
We are going to finish our game of Lord of the Rings Risk now. I will finish this later. Plus it will give me time to think it over. We just got back from the grocery in Bozeman.
5 July 2011 - 8:08 pm - Tuesday
Fuck my stomach and fuck the things it is doing to me. I am hungover still and I never want to drink again ever. And fuck cellphones. My phone needs to detect that I am drunk and turn itself off. Here is a sketch of how I physically feel right now: [it is a very crude frowning face with a word bubble saying “No.”]
Mentally I am ok. I just need to behave.
Going back, grocery shopping for solely myself is shit. It makes me feel lonely and overwhelmed. At college, I would always shop with other people and usually not for food at all because I would eat on campus with everyone. I didn’t own a fridge so that was that. Now I have to predict what I want to eat during the week. I can’t do that. I cannot possibly know what mood or condition I will be in for me to decide what I ingest over a week’s time. And then there are things that spoil and I have to eat them fairly quickly or my money will rot away in a bowl and I’ll never get it back. I like cherries but if I buy a big bag of them, I have to eat them very frequently in a short amount of time. A) If I eat to much of them (which I will inevitably have to) I will get fucking sick of them and B) the whole thing feels rushed and I can’t enjoy a fucking cherry for it being a cherry. Eating becomes a money saving technique instead of the pleasure it should be. It is like a fucking game show and I have to prove to everyone that I can do it, both eat cherries in a money-saving fashion and the fact that I can buy cherries in the first place, that I can handle the social responsibility of fruit ownership. I can’t handle all that. To plan my life out that much is hell.
I want to pick what I want to eat when I want to eat it and not have to worry. To shop just for the day. Is that possible? Is that a thing that people do? Is it less expensive or more expensive? I don’t know other people’s (people who shop for one) grocery shopping habits.
Also everything seems unhealthy. Everything. I feel like I am being lied to by every object there, like there is some disconnect somewhere but I don’t know where.
I need to shower. The fussiness is taking over again.
6 July 2011 - 10:27 pm - Wednesday
The ideal grocery shopping situation for me would be very similar to the television show “Chopped”. Each meal, I would have a basket of minimal yet different and exotic ingredients that would be selected by someone else. However, I would need to have some instructions for preparing certain items because all I know how to do is boil shit and use the microwave. I can grill a little.
But there is a creativity-supressing aspect from the grocery store, a monotony that impedes my usual thinking. Take peanut butter for example. Everyday, every moment, there is peanut butter available on the exact same shelf. It was like that yesterday and it will be like that tomorrow. The same companies have existed for years printing the same labels on slightly altered jars with slightly altered logos. It never changes. If you want peanut butter right fucking now, if you crave it, you can get it right now. You can picture in your head right where it is on the shelf in whatever aisle in whatever grocery store you shop in. You could sleepwalk there and back and the cashiers wouldn’t even know the difference. Tell me where the originality is in that. How can I create when I have everything available all the time?
Do I want peanut butter right now? No. Would I want it in an hour? I have no fucking idea. The ideal grocery store would be one that constantly changes all the time in order to facilitate a cultural imagination and best suit my personal mentality. Maybe one day, or a week, or weeks or months, or from 4 am to 2 pm on a wednesday, they will not have any peanut butter. Maybe they will only have an organic peanut butter that naturally separates. Or maybe just Skippy extra chunky, but only four jars of it and it is in the freezer.
Bottom line: I am scared of getting my life into a routine for fear that it will make me feel alone. Routine and monotonous life styles show no promise for betterment or even detriment. It just plainly exists, stalking carefully planned grocery aisles.
I was the first person to lose Risk. I betrayed a lot of people and died a brutal death. it was quite fun.
When I got out of the shower a bit ago, a thought jumped into my head. Would I be as paranoid as I am now if 9/11 never happened? I am concerned about terrorism as much as everyone else; that is not one of my main concerns. But did my fear of everything stem from the society that 9/11 has created, a suspicious yet somewhat brash America? I’m not afraid of the bomb. Fuck it. I’m a little afraid of the bomb. I feel like it is more of a question of “when” than “if”. Fuck it regardless. But has the nature of how our post-9/11 society affected me as a human being? If you put it like that, it is hard to argue against.
The Rileys and I just had a full conversation about other related things during that last paragraph. There were other ideas that I forgot about. There is water at the bottom of the ocean.
In South Dakota, we saw a billboard for Mt. Rushmore that read “As seen in Disney’s ‘National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets’”. That should not be why people should know Mt. Rushmore. But it is very funny. This country is great. Horrifying sometimes. But great.
7 July 2011 - 8:44 pm - Thursday
We came down to the store to feed off their wifi for a little bit but apparently something is going on here, another band I assume. Willie Nelson is playing here in Big Sky soon. Not now though. This band sounds like they make closing-credit songs for television shows on the Home and Garden Channel.
This trip is coming to its end (it has been very fun and well worth doing (that sounds as if I am trying to convince myself that but I’m not)). I realize that I am going to make my last trip with my car, the Mystery Machine. When we get back to Louisville, I will be picking up my new car, another Jeep Patriot 2011, black. I am going to name it Three Dog.
It is somewhat sad because I have been all over the country with this car. [The following may seem familiar because I used part of it in my car’s eulogy that I posted on the Compass earlier this year] On our last trip to Sarasota just a week or so ago, I broke 100,000 miles. This car has been my sanctuary. It has housed my family, my friends, our first Bonnaroo team when our tent failed, my belongings from school, my panic attacks, my garbage, my DEVO hat that rolled around in the trunk for a full year, snacks from Danielle’s mom when I couldn’t handle Vermont, and infinite amount of cd purchases, people who I will never see again, enemies, make-up in the fabric of the ceiling of the passenger seat, parking tags, steam drawings on the windows, a court order, anger and loneliness, understanding. That car is my home and my best friend and this will be our last ride. It is time for things to continue bit I will always keep an ear x-tacy bumper sticker on the bottom left part of my back window in its honor.
This band turned out to be a blues band. Nothing great. They are no Buddy Guy and Junior Wells.
Today I saw something that I have only heard rumors about its existence from my mother. While in a liquor store in Belgrade, I saw a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, apparently the fucking overlord of bourbon. It was $230 and one day, I will have my very own. I also touched a $550 bottle of scotch that was aged for 70 years I think. Some people don’t even live that long. That bottle has lived a full life and dammit, I want one. One day.
I did end up getting a pint of Woodford Reserve so my next entry tonight should be quite interesting.
[There was no entry that night. The next entry was on July 20, 2011, my first entry from here in Chevy Chase, Maryland, which is featured on the Compass post “Metro Sketches”]